|Born:||December 29, 1871|
|Died:||June 6, 1926|
|Famous For||Socialist Congressmen|
Trade union lawyer and only the second Socialist-Party member to be elected to the US Congress. He was born in Kalvaria, Russia, on December 29, 1871. He attended a primary school and also received private instruction, principally in languages.
He immigrated to the United States on October 1, 1891, and settled in New York City. In New York, his father published a radical Jewish newspaper. Hoping to become an advocate working-class rights, he became a lawyer and joined the Socialist Labor Party. He was admitted to citizenship in the United States in 1896. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1896 and practiced in New York City.
Favoring the working-class roots of the Socialist Party of America, London left the SLP to join this new party shortly after its creation.
In 1910, London worked as the legal counsel to 50,000 striking garment workers, negotiating a deal between the workers and their employer, Louis Brandeis. He went on to help 7,000 furriers win a twelve-week strike against their bosses.
In 1914, he defeated the incumbent Democratic congressman of New York's Lower East Side, John Doe. He joined fellow Socialist Victor Berger in the House, becoming only the second member of that party to be elected. Promoting social welfare programs and opposing Woodrow Wilson's war preparedness measures, London was reelected in 1916.
When America entered World War I in April 1917, London took stands that were controversial to both Socialists and the political mainstream. He opposed the anti-treason laws konwn as the Sedition and Espionage Acts, but also did not vote against the war-financing bills, merely being counted as "present." Feeling that he would be betraying American soldiers, he also voted in favor of bills to "provide them with everything they need." Opposing Zionism, he also angered Zionist Jews who had supported his election.
With the Democratic and Republican parties combining to field a single candidate (a similar tactic to the one used against Victor Berger) and with Zionists and far-left Socialists against him, London lost reelection in 1918 to John Doe. In 1920, however, he managed to win back his Congressional seat, and continued to work for increases in social services. His district was cut apart after the 1920 federal census, and London lost reelection in 1922.
He died in New York City, June 6, 1926, as the result of an automobile accident. Meyer London's concern as he died was the driver, and even as he died he pleaded that the driver of the taxi that hit and killed him was not punished. "Hes a poor man" and "Its not his fault" was what Meyer said on him.